Facility management improves businesses and lives at an organizational level. If an organization is thriving, the contribution to its environment and productivity from the facility management professionals — who must have been both talented and charmed — needs to be acknowledged.
From an outsider view, it may seem pretty straightforward — providing facilities for the organization’s building(s): the walls, the roof, the floor, the doors, the lighting, plumbing, HVAC, and so on. But the fact is that the workplaces are always changing, businesses are becoming more intricate, and the companies are ever aiming to be more agile.
To make it happen, and to keep it all running smooth, there are some challenges which the facility managers need to overcome on a regular basis. In reality, they are increasingly expected to overcome new challenges to accomplish the organizational goals efficiently and with fewer resources.
Moreover, challenges vary with organizations. A commercial building may have far fewer challenges than a hotel, hospital, or a shopping center. Nonetheless, navigating the road ahead smoothly involves identifying and overcoming the key challenges. Here are some of the crucial ones, and all are interrelated.
Not everything in an organization can be accomplished in-house. Facility managers may have to source providers of products and services to vendors after a thorough background check for credibility, reliability, and competency. Maintaining great relationships with your vendors is important as they share your workload. However, make sure to have new vendors available as a backup if an existing vendor fails to show up.
Also, routine inspections are very important in vendor management. For example, if a vendor, say an IT service provider, is not performing, it’s time to train them or switch provider.
Choosing the right vendor also involves getting the best price for the work (or inventory), and that takes us to the next challenge — cost control.
Organizations often require superior services and support. For example, if your organization’s workforce demands a more collaborative workplace, you would want the job done quickly and economically.
From the suppliers’ front, there can be scope for cost control. It starts with choosing the right people and negotiating for the best prices. Additionally, reducing the number of suppliers for consolidated bulk purchases contribute to better prices and uniform service agreements.
Investing in technology, automation, and energy efficiency almost always pays off well in the long run.
If the managers are keeping a tab on wastage and unnecessary spend, and if they’re working towards extending the life of the resources, then you are definitely heading in the right direction.
It is also important to be in the know about the team’s requirements by being more organized, and a deep understanding of existing resources or inventory helps in cost control by avoiding any last-minute, inflated spends.
With proper, data-driven reporting, facility managers can realize increased efficiency and reduced spending.
Asset Management and Information Retrieval
According to a survey by the Facility Management Association of Australia (FMA), asset management is crucial for avoiding risk and increasing operational control. Imagine your centralized air-conditioning is due for maintenance, and if there’s no record of it, you have missed a chance to extend its operating life.
Facility managers shall be held responsible for the cost incurred for such emergency replacements and repairs. If the vendor and assets data is documented properly using modern software tools, information retrieval becomes easy for management.
Furthermore, identifying tools for tracking the delivery of supplies and services is highly necessary. Investing in such information technology systems allow for operational visibility and efficient asset management.
Facility management often turns out to be a tall order, as the managers have so much to juggle with — vendor management, team coordination, cost control, unforeseen challenges, etc. — there’s just not enough time.
Investing time to learn more about project management and people management techniques can certainly help boost your productivity. Again, making use of technology and tools makes your job simpler and faster.
Planning and prioritizing your work is one way to avoid procrastination. Obviously, spending more time to accomplish the same amount of work is the wrong way to go about it. Rather, pushing the boundaries to be more productive in the stipulated time is. The 80/20 rule works well: 20% of your efforts should generate 80% of your results.
Yes, we are speaking here at an organizational level. But it’s also about the people — the facility managers who make it happen. At a human level, facility managers sometimes take a heavy toll. They often face a heavy workload, professional burnout, lost family time, etc. They have to take responsibility for faults (and failures) and have to meet safety and security compliance guidelines, which is not an easy task.
Granted, when compared, the struggles are more or less common in many professions. Problem-solving with an open mind and keeping a level head helps. But if you’re unable to sort the problems out by yourself, you shouldn’t hesitate to take help from training and consultations. For example, getting trained on Six Sigma methodologies helps in delivering more value when working with logistics processes and management tools. The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is designed to serve as a solution for professional development needs throughout facility managers’ careers.
The challenges are interrelated to each other, and therefore the solutions too: work towards developing robust and resilient service strategies. Considering the solutions for the discussed issues and being up to date with the industry trends can enable facility management professionals to meet the most important goal of providing the finest customer satisfaction in increasingly complex business environments.